Charles Lafontaine

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Charles Lafontaine
Charles Lafontaine.jpg
Born 27 March 1803
Died 13 August 1892 (aged 89)
Nationality France
Known for mesmerism

Charles Lafontaine (1803 – 1892) was an early French Magnetizer.

He eventually lived in Geneva and published a journal called Le magnétiseur. Although he had failed as an actor, he became wealthy as a traveling mesmerist, or animal magnetiser, as it was then known.

He wrote an autobiography, which may have influenced George du Maurier in his writing of Trilby.

He stayed in London for a couple of years 1840–1841, where according to the locale newspapers and magazines of London, he created a great sensation in the city magnetizing a lion in the Zoological Gardens, London, in which he succeeded.[1] Followed by his successful magnetizing on animals, he repeated the performances in various other cities of England. He had a practice of calling one of his audiences to get magnetized and it worked great.[2] "When he magnetised he looked like personified concentration. It was often remarked that when a person on being introduced to Lafontaine had talked with him for a little while, he felt as if he had known him for ever so long, which feeling of 'old acquaintance' shows that he had an eminently sympathetic nature" (Richard Harte - Hypnotism and the doctors)

His stage demonstrations of animal magnetism in Manchester influenced surgeon James Braid to pursue the study of what came to be known as hypnotism (N.B. Braid's "hypnotism" was significantly different from Lafontaine's "magnetism"). Braid first saw Lafontaine in Manchester on November 13, 1841.[3]


  1. ^ Harte, (1902).
  2. ^ Lafontaine (1866).
  3. ^ See Yeates (2013), passim.